On the occasion of the Round Table of organisations representing regions in Europe, held on 15 October, Ludmila Sfirloaga underlined the importance of strenghtening co-operation between European regions. ''In this respect, the mechanisms that can facilitate co-decision between the national and the regional level on one hand, and between the regional and the local one on the other, are of great importance,'' she stressed.
Referring to the Reference Framework on regional democracy, she pointed out that ''for the Congress it is as a starting point for drafting a binding instrument on regional democracy in the near future''.
Read the speech below:
(17th Plenary Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities – 13-15 October 2009
Round Table of representatives of organisations representing regions in europe: co-operation between european regions: objectives, structures and networks
Introduction by Ludmila Sfirloaga, President of the Chamber of regions)
The main purpose of the Round table is to hold a debate with the Presidents or Vice-Presidents of Organisations representing the regions in Europe on the future challenges that the European regions have to face. The Congress has already long-standing relations with all these associations or institutions and wishes to develop the existing synergies with Regional Associations, namely via existing structures and networks or new ones to be created.
The Chamber of Regions of the Congress, for its future activities, will continue to follow at regional level the main objectives of the Council of Europe: human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Concerning regional democracy, the principle of good governance - as implemented within the state national systems - deserves a particular place. In this respect, the mechanisms that can facilitate co-decision between the national and the regional level on one hand, and between the regional and the local one on the other, are of great importance. The possibilities of maintaining a democratic decision making process while keeping it efficient have to be explored.
The present economic and financial crisis re-launched the debate on the responsibilities of the regions on tackling the economic issues. In this respect, deepening the debate on fiscal federalism is of particular importance for the European Regions.
As far as the reinforcement of the rule of law is concerned, the Chamber was deeply involved - and will follow closely in the future - the “Reference Framework on Regional Democracy”. The “Reference Framework" is not a binding text but the Congress considers it - together with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe - as a starting point for drafting a binding instrument on regional democracy in the near future. Within this text, which is based on the "Helsinki Principles", several parts have been completed by the introduction of items from the draft European Charter on Regional Democracy adopted in May 2008 by the Congress: the powers of the regions, state supervision on regions and equalisation transfers among regions are the main new items contained in this text.
Complementarily, the role and experience of regions with legislative powers remains an issue of great interest for our Chamber. An in depth analysis of the competencies of 2nd Chambers in different European systems will serve as basis for a conference that we intend to organize in 2010 on the role of regions within national parliaments.
As far as human rights are concerned, we consider that an important issue to be tackled is the fight against corruption at regional level. Nowadays, regions have important competencies in the management of important tax revenues as well as European Union funds for the EU countries. These expenses have to be constantly monitored and controlled. In addition, a successful way for defending citizens' rights, is the introduction, within all the European regions, of regional ombudsmen: a means of making regional public administration more efficient.
The co-operation between the Congress – and in the past with the Standing Conference –with associations and institution representing regional authorities exists since their creation. This cooperation has been very pragmatic from both sides. The Congress is represented to the general assemblies of each association and invites each specialized association to contribute to specific reports. Last but not least, may I recall that each of you have an observer status to the Congress. During the last years, with a view to developing our co-operation, draft agreements have been requested. As you know we are discussing such agreements with the Conference of Presidents of Regions with Legislative Powers (REGLEG), the Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies (CALRE) and the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR). Close collaboration has been established with the Assembly of European Regions (AER), since its creation and with the Association of Maritime and Peripheral Regions (CPMR). We organized Forums with the FEDRE and we are associated to the IRE conferences each summer.
Finally, the Congress will continue to sustain and follow its euroregions according to the geographical approach followed in the past: the Adriatic Euro-region and the Black Sea Euroregion.
We wish to hold an open and broad debate and gather the associations’ perceptions of the main structured actions to be brought about in the near future for sustaining the European regions.
- Meetings: 17th SESSION / Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe / 13 October 2009